Transforming Lives

Every day, all over the world, USAID brings peace to those who endure violence, health to those who struggle with sickness, and prosperity to those who live in poverty. It is these individuals — these uncounted thousands of lives — that are the true measure of USAID’s successes and the true face of USAID's programs.

Masoma had become seriously ill from hypertension. A visit to the hospital offered no relief. After returning home, the expectant mother suffered convulsions and fell unconscious. The family rushed Masoma back to the hospital, where her premature baby was delivered by caesarean section and the young mother survived. The experience left a lasting impression on Sadeqa and set her on a new path to learn more about midwifery and helping mothers in Afghanistan.

Abdul Sattar considers himself land-rich but cash-poor. The Kandahar farmer owns nearly 150 acres of farmland in an area where most farmers have only one or two acres. But because of the prohibitive costs of planting and harvesting, two-thirds of his land has lain dormant for years.

Tasked to implement the preparatory work for construction of a road that will connect Afghanistan’s northern towns of Bamyan and Dushi, USAID’s Afghanistan Infrastructure Rehabilitation Program (AIRP) laid the groundwork for more than a road. It also helped build a community’s educational resources.

Economic development in Afghanistan depends on a steady supply of electricity to power businesses and factories, and citizens enjoy a better quality of life when electricity heats and lights their homes and schools. USAID has been working with the Afghan Government to build the capacity of Afghans working in the power sector. In concert with this effort, USAID supports power sector reform and commercialization of the national state-owned utility company, Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS).

Roughly 120,000 residents from Kunar Province in Afghanistan travel to Pakistan in search of work each year. 97 percent of these residents are men in their twenties and thirties. Most of them will spend less than a year in Pakistan, waiting for the return of seasonal farming jobs in their home country. In Pakistan, the average worker will earn $120 per month in wages, saving only $16 after room and board expenses. 

Roadside bombs not only cause serious problems for international military forces, but result in hundreds of civilian deaths and injuries each year. One of these bombs killed ten-year-old Zarif’s father when fighting erupted between the Taliban and the international military forces. Only months before, his younger brother had died in a Taliban attack. The deaths of his brother and father were bitter emotional blows for the family and the loss of his father spelled severe financial hardship. For families living on the margin, the loss or injury to a breadwinner can plunge them into desperate circumstances.

Afghanistan’s information technology sector is one of the country’s success stories. There has been a huge expansion in the use of mobile phone technology and Internet penetration in recent years. In 2001 Afghanistan’s communications infrastructure was almost non-existent, whereas today most Afghans have access to a mobile phone. The country still faces, however, huge social problems related to poverty, illiteracy, and lack of electricity. With the extraordinary growth in new technology, Afghans need to find new technology solutions to its age-old problems. 

Founded in 1931, Kabul University is the oldest and largest institution of higher learning in Afghanistan. The university is recognized internationally and its credentials are renowned but its rich culture, history, and academic excellence have been devastated by decades of wars and instability.

USAID, through its Afghanistan Infrastructure Rehabilitation Program, recently completed construction of the Regak Bridge located in the volatile Uruzgan province. Straddling the Shakur River, the bridge was constructed in an area faced with border disputes, insurgency, drug trafficking, and river flooding due to snow melt and rain.


Last updated: January 12, 2015